Southwest Fined $140 Million Over 2022 Holiday Delays, Cancelations

By Jason Hall

December 18, 2023

Southwest Cancels 62% Of Flights As Storm Meltdown Threatens To Drag On
Photo: Getty Images

Southwest Airlines was fined $140 million as part of a civil penalty for the major flight disruptions that resulted in nearly 17,000 significantly delayed or canceled flights during the 2022 holiday season, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced in a news release shared on Monday (December 18).

More than 2 million passengers were stranded after operational failures led to 16,900 flights being canceled. The $140 million penalty -- 30 times larger than any DOT penalty for consumer protection violations -- will be added to the more than $600 million in refunds and reimbursements that the airline is already mandated to pay, totaling more than $750 million in payments owed for the holiday meltdown.

“Today’s action sets a new precedent and sends a clear message: if airlines fail their passengers, we will use the full extent of our authority to hold them accountable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Taking care of passengers is not just the right thing to do — it's required, and this penalty should put all airlines on notice to take every step possible to ensure that a meltdown like this never happens again.”

DOT found that Southwest specifically violated several consumer protection laws by failing to provide adequate customer service assistance, prompt flight status notifications and refunds in a prompt and proper manner.

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